Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Smoking Speedster

In an installment of Point/Counterpoint that is both amusing and disquieting, Mark Engblom's Comic Coverage imagines the tobacco industry responding to Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada's decision to ban smoking in all of the company's comic titles. That imaginary response takes the form of a retro public relations campaign starring the most unlikely of superhero smokers, Jay Garrick!

Update: Kelson Vibber has followed-up by posting panels from three separate versions of Jay Garrick's origin story. Flash Comics #1 (1940) gave us the rousing endorsement of cigarettes seen above. In Secret Origins #9 (1986), Jay considers that he should quit smoking as he lights up. By the time of Flash Secret Files #1 (1997), the cigarette had been completely removed from the tale.


Craig MacD. said...

I remember reading an old Secret Origins issue that showed Jay Garrick knocking over the beaker of "Hard Water" that gave him his speed while trying to light a match (in order to smoke a cigarette). I always felt there was something wrong with that, as I had never seen Jay smoke before that (and haven't seen him smoke since), though I imagine things were different back in the Golden Age.

Kelson said...

When they retold Jay's origin in Secret Origins #9 (1986), they added him thinking to himself, "I really ought to quit..." as he lights up. When I found the original story in The Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told, I compared the two versions, and thought it was an interesting bit of revisionism.

1940s: smoking is typical adult behavior.
1980s: smoking is dangerous, and don't try this at home, kids!

And then there was his "he got what he deserved" reaction to forcing one of the villains off the road and over the side of a cliff, compared to today's "heroes don't kill" mantra.

Kelson said...

Posted!. I checked one more retelling, in Flash Secret Files #1, and by then, the cigarette was completely removed. Jay simply nodded off while working late.